This web log was created to keep you up to date with the athletic pursuits of Blake Boldon. It will be updated regularly with competition schedules, results, and photos.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Maui Details...

Not all my racing experiences this fall have been as disappointing as my trip to San Jose. In September I had an amazing trip to the Front Street Mile in Maui. It came at the end of three months of hard work. During that time, sixteen hour days weren’t uncommon and the pile of things that needed to be done never seemed to end. I was also traveling a lot for recruiting and out of town for two different camps. There was a three week span where I only slept in my own bed two nights. Training had not been going incredibly well, but I was running faithfully knowing that even though it wasn’t high quality and I wasn’t getting a lot of rest, I was building an aerobic base that would serve me later. When I left for Hawaii I had no expectations for my race but since I had agreed to compete months in advance I knew that I’d give it a shot. I viewed the trip as a chance to finally not work for at least a day or two and see someplace that I’d never been. When I was at the airport in LA, I bumped into Dale Summerville. Dale’s a Kiwi that ran at Stony Brook University in New York and although I’d never met him I have known of him through some mutual friends for a couple years. It was good to put a face with the name and in the coming days we became fast friends. After a late night run (which was technically an early morning run according to our original time zones), we stayed in some condominiums called Maui Hill. It was a fantastic place but our hosts were incredibly apologetic that we weren’t staying at the intended hotel. They insisted that we would be taken care of the next night but Dale and I couldn’t figure out how the next place could be better than Maui Hill. Once the driver from the Grand Wailea arrived to pick us up the next day we understood. He came in a luxury car and set the tone for the rest of our stay. The Grand Wailea was probably the most palatial hotel/resort that I’ve ever seen. After checking in, we ate lunch at a beachfront restaurant near the pool (which could pass for an amusement park). I had a room to myself with an unbelievable view of the sunset which I could easily see from my king bed. By our afternoon run, Dale and I had made friends with another athlete in town for the race, Jonah Maiyo, a graduate of the University of Arizona. The three of us were nearly inseparable for the rest of the weekend. I’ll always remember finishing a run with Dale, standing near the beach and looking around and saying something to the affect of, “Can you believe that running got us HERE?? All the long, miserable runs and the early morning sessions are worth it, just for this.” The race was held on Front Street in Lahaina, which was on the other side of the island from where we were staying so Jonah, Dale and I had to rent a car to get to the race on Saturday. We made an agreement that we were in it together and we’d help each other out over the next couple of days. As the race got closer I started to realize that none of the other guys in the race were in great shape either and I might actually have a shot at competing with them. At the start there were only five of us and the atmosphere was pretty casual despite a big crowd. The first quarter mile of the course was lined on both sides with people there to watch the race. There were a lot of runners on the island for the Maui Marathon the next morning and there were a lot of age division mile races before the elite race so the crowd was pretty good. Right before the start we all got together and took a picture with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company mascot, a giant shrimp. Then we lined up and took off. The pace was really slow to start so Dale & I found ourselves in the lead. It was windy on the way out and nobody was especially fit so nobody wanted to push the pace. The course was a straight out & back loop so as we went around the cone somebody called out the half mile split and I heard 2:10. Right as we went around the cone, I felt my legs weaken and I nearly came to a full stop. Unfortunately for Dale, he was right behind me and had to give me a shove. That was enough to snap me back into the race and I took off. I don’t remember anybody being near me, but I remember thinking that I had to push the pace to get away from everybody else because the whole way back I felt like it was only a matter of time before somebody passed me. It didn’t happen and I ran 4:05 to win by four seconds. I was stunned and I’m still not sure how I was that fit in September, especially under the circumstances. I was on the top of the world and after a cool down we were the guests of honor at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. It was a great meal of fresh seafood and all the guys were in high spirits. None of us planned to return home until at least Monday and we were all done with our athletic commitments on Saturday night so plans were being made. While I was in this euphoric state my friend, Jonah, asked me if I could drive him to the start of the marathon in the morning so he could pace a friend. I foolishly said, “No problem, we’re in it together. What time do we have to leave?” Through his big smile Jonah burbled, “4:30.” After it dawned on me that he meant 4:30 am, I realized what I had just agreed to. At that point, I decided that since I had to run anyway and I was going to be up before the sun I might as well do my run in the morning so that I could have the rest of the day to see Maui. I asked Rudy, the race director if I could still enter the half marathon. I figured that I could just run in the middle of the pack and finish with 4 or 5 miles afterward for my long run for the week. At least I could find people to run with and enjoy the Hawaiian sunrise. Jonah and I were on our way to the car to go register for the race when Dale caught up to us and we were all back on the same page for the morning. After 3 or 4 hours of restful sleep we rushed to the marathon start so that Dale and I could hurriedly drop Jonah off. After Jonah got out, we still had a 30 minute drive ahead of us to make it to the start of the half marathon. As we pulled up, we were only minutes away from the start and there were no places to park. We found a spot in a pay lot a few minutes from the starting line but Dale still had to change into his running gear and I had to answer nature’s call. While Dale got dressed, I found a promisingly short palm tree a few feet from one of Maui’s nicest hotels to squat under and took off at a quick pace to catch the start. We timed it perfectly and ran right into each other in front of the parking garage and changed gears again to make sure we got to the start. We ran right up to the front and hopped the starting corral to take our places about ten feet from the front. We had just enough time to double-knot our shoes before they started us. Dale had already told me that he doesn’t go to races to lose and we both had seen the results from the last year so we knew what it would take to be up front. I hadn’t hoped to run under 6 minute miles until 5 or 6 miles from the finish. My thought was that I we could be way behind the leaders at the turn-around and still win by running a large negative split. Dale preferred to run from the front so for the second day in a row we found ourselves leading. After the second mile we set the pace for a group of guys hoping to run in the 1:18 range and it was a good group, working together. At the turn-around Dale and I picked it up a little bit and it was just the two of us. For about three miles it was a lot of fun because as we ran on the out and back course we were cheered by hundreds and hundreds of enthusiastic runners. People were taking our pictures and cheering for us really loudly. All the while Dale and I were smiling, waving and yelling back because we weren’t running that fast or hard. Nearing the ten mile mark I decided that it had been a good effort and whether I jogged in or not I was going to need a few days to recover so I wanted to get a good training benefit out of the last 5k. I picked it up and had a nice chat with the lead cyclist before coming back into the crowds for the last quarter mile. It was my fourth half marathon of my life and my fourth half marathon victory. At the awards ceremony they presented us with some great trophies and I got to say a few words to the crowd. While I was standing watching all the age division awards the one thing that amazed me was the multi-culturalism of the race. The announcer spoke several languages including English & Japanese, which he translated between constantly. After I made a few comments about the great people and the well-organized race he translated that into Japanese and I thought it was hilarious for some reason. The rest of the trip wasn’t the vacation that I originally imagined because I was so tired from the running but it was much needed time away from work and life in Ames. The trip to Maui solidified in my mind that I will be able to coach, train and race successfully and that 2008 still could be my best year on the track despite other obligations. I owe a big debt of gratitude to Rick Amescua for his incredible hospitality at the Grand Wailea, Rudy Huber (owner of Runner’s Paradise, Maui’s only specialty running shop), and Mary Beth Bishop, a journalist for the Maui News who took the time to show us around the island on Sunday & Monday. Post Script - I wrote the above post back in November, and unfortunately never got it posted. I'm in Boston right now preparing for the US Indoor Championships tomorrow. I run the 3000 meters at 5:40 pm eastern time. Just like I've been behind on posting on this site, I'm behind on emails. If you're still reading this, here's a reminder that my primary email address is now my work email - If you're emailing me at, I'm WAY behind there...


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